What Did We Learn From January?

Goodbye January. Hello February.

At the beginning of the year we went over some seasonal tendencies and gauges in a post titled, “What Does the Month of January Mean to You?”. I got a ton of emails and comments on this stuff so I figured I’d follow up with some of the results. Here you go – short and sweet:


The January Barometer states that As the S&P500 Goes In January, So Goes The Year. When the month of January records a gain, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, history suggests the rest of the year will serve as a benefactor, and finish in the black as well. Since 1950, this indicator has an amazing 88.5% accuracy ratio. I can’t think of many others that you can say that about.

The S&P500 closed 2011 at 1257.60. With yesterday’s 1312.41 close, we have a positive January with 4.35% gains.


Down Januarys Serve as a Warning: According to the Stock Traders Alamanc, every down January on the S&P500 since 1950, without exception, preceded a new, or extended bear market, a flat market, or a 10% correction. 12 bear markets began, and ten continued into second years with poor Januarys. When the first month of the year has been down, the rest of the year followed with an average loss of 13.9%.

Not this year.


The First Five Days In January Indicator has a nice track record as well. The last 38 UP first five days of the year have been followed by full-year gains 33 times for an 86.8% accuracy ratio. For all 38 of those years, the S&P500 has averaged a 13.9% annual gain. Since 1950, there have been 23 First Five Down Days to kick off the year, but this has much less of a predictive value: 12 up years and 11 down for a 47.8% accuracy ratio and an average gain of 0.2%. Later this year we will have a Presidential election and 13 of the last 15 presidential years followed the first five day’s direction.

On Monday January 9th the S&P500 closed at 1280.70. So the first 5 days of the year finished up 1.8%


The January Barometer Portfolio says that the Standard & Poors top 10 performing industries in January tend to outperform the S&P500 over the next 11 months. Since 1970, the portfolio has an out-performing accuracy ratio of 71%. This indicator has performed even better when the month of January is positive with a portfolio gain of 19.4% for the last 11 months of the year compared to just 12.2% for the index (14.6% to 6.8% normally).

Based on this S&P Performance Data – here is my top-10 list. I’m sure Sam Stovall and Bespoke Investment Group will have some solid numbers on this soon. Stay tuned:


The January Effect is the tendency for Small-cap stocks to out-perform Large-caps in the month of January. There are a lot of theories about why this is the case, but the truth is that the effect now starts in mid-December. From 1953 to 1995, small-caps out-performed large caps in January 40 out of 43 years. But the shift into the mid-December starting point really got going after the 1987 crash. This year was no different as the $IWM:$SPY ratio bottomed on December 14th and rallied right away, finishing with a small gain.

Check. Small-Caps and Mid-Caps outperformed Large-Caps by almost 50% in January:

(Click Chart to Embiggen)


January is the NASDAQ’s Top Performing Month over the last 40 years. Since 1971, the total percentage gain for the Nasdaq Composite in January is an unbelievable 115.2%. If you take the rest of the 11 months combined during that period, the rest of the year has averaged just 30.1%. Amazing stuff.

The Nasdaq Composite finished up 2011 at 2,605.15. With yesterday’s 2,813.84 close, the Nasdaq finished the month up a solid 8% with America’s favorite stock $AAPL up 12.7% YTD.


And there you have it folks. Ignore these seasonal trends at your own peril…..